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A Visit to a Muslim Wine Merchant

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A Visit to a Muslim Wine Merchant

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A Visit to a Muslim Wine Merchant

A Visit to a Muslim Wine Merchant

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Amin Ajani, left, speaks to Renee Montagne and Scott Simon about wines. Peter Breslow, NPR hide caption

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Peter Breslow, NPR

Amin Ajani, left, speaks to Renee Montagne and Scott Simon about wines.

Peter Breslow, NPR

NPR's Renee Montagne takes NPR's Scott Simon to one of her favorite Los Angeles sites, the wine store just down the street from her house. There Scott meets Amin Ajani, who has become something of a wine expert despite the fact that he is a practicing Muslim who has never tasted a drop.

SCOTT SIMON, Host:

Los Angeles abounds with famous and accomplished broadcasting personalities - Jay Leno, Vin Scully, Milton Berle - but for us it's Renee Montagne.

RENEE MONTAGNE: (Unintelligible).

SIMON: Renee, of course, of MORNING EDITION, I'd like you to show us a corner of your own special Los Angeles.

MONTAGNE: We are standing on my corner right now - we're standing inside my favorite corner right at the moment, and it's the L&K Market. And partly the reason it's become dear to me in these last few years is that I'm working all night and sleeping most of the day, and so about as far from my house I can get is half a block away to the corner market.

SIMON: And knowing you for a while, I see it contains everything that's important to you: salted pistachios, Listerine, and a good wine selection.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

MONTAGNE: Yeah, the latter especially.

SIMON: But...

MONTAGNE: Yeah, well...

SIMON: And so - but you're standing here with a gentleman who's a remarkable part of Los Angeles, as I understand it.

MONTAGNE: Amin Ajani who owns L&K Market or as I like to refer to is as The Market.

Scott Simon.

SIMON: How do you do? Nice to meet you.

AMIN AJANI: Welcome to Los Angeles, Scott.

MONTAGNE: So, okay, the wine collection here, if you don't mind me saying, has improved dramatically in the 12 years I've been coming to this market.

AJANI: Improved and hopefully grown substantially.

MONTAGNE: Yeah.

AJANI: The result of what you see here today is borne out of a few things happening about at the same time - one was has a business necessity. I needed to distinguish my store, and I thought what if one of my passions - one of my passion or interest was wine.

MONTAGNE: Okay, okay, but wait a minute.

AJANI: Yeah.

MONTAGNE: You're a Muslim.

AJANI: I'm Muslim, correct.

MONTAGNE: and I know from knowing you you've never tasted...

AJANI: Yes, I've never, never had a drop of alcohol as a principle.

SIMON: I no expert myself, but passion usually involves a taste of the produce, doesn't it?

AJANI: It doesn't have to be.

MONTAGNE: But, I mean, you go to wine tastings...

AJANI: Tastings.

MONTAGNE: ...but...

SIMON: You go to wine tastings?

AJANI: I go to wine tastings but I don't drink any wine. I look at wines; I sniff wine; I discuss wines. It's...

SIMON: You sniff the wine.

AJANI: I sniff the wine.

SIMON: So you just hold it up and...

AJANI: And I've always been reading about wine even though I had never tasted it. And people ask me, are you tempted? I am not necessarily tempted either, but, yes, there is this great desire on my part to learn as much as I can about the regions from where these wines come, why it's so special, what are the personalities of wine, why do people like certain wines and don't like certain wines, introduce people to a wine, expand their horizon in wines, and everything to do with wines. It just catches on to you.

SIMON: Yeah. Thank you so much.

AJANI: You're welcome.

SIMON: Well, it's been wonderful meeting you.

AJANI: You're very welcome.

SIMON: And can we settle up Renee's tab before we leave? She must owe you a little.

AJANI: I think the three bananas that you get is, what, under the dollar.

MONTAGNE: Yeah, three for a dollar.

AJANI: Three for a dollar.

MONTAGNE: Yeah.

SIMON: Thanks so much.

AJANI: Thanks for visiting again.

SIMON: Amin Ajani and NPR's own Renee Montagne. Thank you, too.

MONTAGNE: Oh, yeah, thanks. I'm so glad you came, Scott.

SIMON: This is NPR News.

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